Not all violence is seen as “bad” and some violence is even seen as acceptable or as deserved.
Their views varied according to the description of the violence, but most importantly, according to their understandings of how men and women behave in different circumstances.
Yet when specific scenarios were discussed, young people began to offer justifications.
They viewed it as acceptable and even deserved in some cases, particularly in circumstances where women were not seen to be conforming to expected behavior within relationships, such as when they may have lied to their partner or been unfaithful.
While the knowledge that young people accept violence is becoming well-established, our understanding of why they do is less developed.
My own research with 14 and 15 year olds in the north of England revealed that young people have nuanced understandings of what behavior constitutes violence and when it is unacceptable.
Steve pushes his girlfriend and calls her a “slut.” Violence by women towards men was also seen as unproblematic.
Some participants offered more detailed descriptions of perpetrators of violence that included class-based or racial characteristics.Physical abuse was reported by a quarter of girls and 18 percent of boys in a 2009 survey of 13 to 21-year olds.In the same survey, sexual abuse was reported by more than a third of girls and 16 percent of boys.Views on gender are the key All this suggests that simply telling young people that violence is wrong will not prevent them from accepting it.
Young people have more nuanced understandings of violence that are greatly influenced by their views on gender – what is normal, expected and appropriate for men and women to do, both in and outside relationships.Young people readily and articulately characterize violence as encompassing a range of behavior, including physical, verbal, sexual and emotional abuse.